Cover: Ghettostadt: Łódź and the Making of a Nazi City, from Harvard University PressCover: Ghettostadt in PAPERBACK


Łódź and the Making of a Nazi City

Product Details


$27.00 • £23.95 • €24.95

ISBN 9780674045545

Publication Date: 09/01/2010


416 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

20 color illustrations, 12 halftones, 2 maps

Belknap Press


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[Horwitz’s] ground-up approach has the merit of vividness, and brings home the daily horrors of ghetto life and the impossible ethical choices that faced the inhabitants.—Mark Mazower, Times Literary Supplement

‘Litzmannstadt, City of the Future,’ was designated by Hitler as a special center of urban development. As resources were poured in from the Reich, it would, declared its new German mayor, become a magnet for German immigrants from the East. And yet, as Gordon J. Horwitz points out in Ghettostadt, his brilliantly readable book on the city during World War II, there was a dark side to this glowing picture, a side barely mentioned at all by the mayor and his cohorts. For the process of becoming German also involved ridding the city of its Jews… Horwitz’s vivid narrative makes effective use of unpublished sources in German, Yiddish, and Polish to paint a detailed picture of how the German population was strengthened by more than 20,000 ethnic German immigrants from Galicia, Volhynia, and further afield, within a few months of the German conquest. The Jews were removed from their sight by being forced into a ghetto.—Richard J. Evans, New York Review of Books

It is remarkable that Ghettostadt: Lodz and the Making of a Nazi City is the first English-language study of the Lodz ghetto and Gordon Horwitz is the first scholar to draw together the mass of material that has been published or come to light since the appearance of the ghetto chronicle in 1984. Moreover, Horwitz synthesises the history of both the ghetto and the city. Few local studies in this genre (Auschwitz is the exception) have dared to attempt anything so ambitious… He brilliantly juxtaposes what passed for life in the ghetto with the fun and games on the ‘Aryan’ side. His knack of being authoritative and heart-rending at the same time lifts this book above mere history; it is a fitting memorial to a Lodz that is no more.—David Cesarani, Times Higher Education Supplement

[A] chilling new history… Ghettostadt is more than just another recounting of the horrors of the Holocaust. Surprisingly, it is the first English-language study of the Łódź ghetto. Horwitz relies on a rich mix of primary sources—including diaries, testimonies, and memoirs of the Łódź Jews themselves—to tell the story of the Łódź ghetto in a fashion that is as thorough and compelling as it is horrifying.—Matthew Shaer, Christian Science Monitor

Ghettostadt is wrenching, absolutely heartbreaking. We of course already know the horrific outcome. The Jews then remaining in the ghetto, hoping against hope, did not. Part of the sheer horror of it all is the recounting of daily life, amid disease, hunger, and death, each rumor generating waves of anxiety, anguish, and panic, particularly as deportations increased.—John Merriman, Boston Globe

Beautifully produced, and well-illustrated with contemporary photographs, this is a powerful, though at times a heart-rending account that must be put alongside Harold Marcuse’s Legacies of Dachau: The Uses and Abuses of a Concentration Camp and Arno J. Mayer’s Why Did the Heavens Not Darken: The ‘Final Solution‘ in History as an indispensable source for anyone trying to comprehend this appalling time in European history.—Carla King, Irish Times

This is a remarkable book. With honorable modesty and an unerring tone, Gordon J. Horwitz has accomplished something quite rare and important. In a single book he conveys the awesome scale of the Holocaust—with its multitudes of victims and its long years of suffering and dread—while also emphasizing the particularity of individual experiences. This meticulously researched work makes us familiar with the uncommon lives of men, women and children as they were herded to a common tragic fate.—Michael T. Kaufman, Moment

In this rich and suggestive book, Horwitz tells a tale of two cities: Litzmannstadt, the Nazi name for Lodz, which was to be a model for a German future, and the Ghetto, a doomed remnant of a sordid past. The two were linked: for Litzmannstadt to succeed, the Ghetto and its Jews had to disappear… What makes Horwitz’s book so illuminating is his urban perspective. He tells how mass murder unfolded in the context of a particular city… [A] very important book.—Samuel D. Krassow, New Republic

Horwitz has written an indispensable account of the Łódź Ghetto, juxtaposing the Nazi objective of making Łódź, renamed Litzmannstadt, a city ‘cleansed’ of Jews, with the exploitation of its ghetto labor.—J. Fischel, Choice

The Nazis’ use of bureaucracy to achieve their genocidal aims comes through clearly in this historical tour de force. The Nazis attempted to ‘re-engineer’ the Polish city of Łódź, home to more than 230,000 Jews (one-third of the city’s population) before the war, into a model—and Judenfrei—German city embodying health and beauty they called Litzmannstadt. This required forcing the Jews into a ghetto with the help of Jewish leaders, especially the arrogant, dictatorial and reportedly lascivious industrialist Chaim Rumkowski… Horwitz’s understated prose helps put into relief the full horror of these events.Publishers Weekly

A finely-wrought reconstruction of everyday life and death in the Łódź Ghetto. Horwitz is that most welcome of historians, one who conveys minute details while keeping in view the large political and moral issues they raise. This powerful book takes a prominent place in the ongoing discussion of what the Jews could and could not do to save themselves in the face of the Nazi determination to murder them all.—Jeffrey Herf, author of The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust

Gordon Horwitz’s unflinching and heartbreaking narrative of occupied Łódź juxtaposes the Nazi plans for its urban ‘cleansing’ and renewal with the inexorable destruction of its ghettoized Jewish community. Even after so many accounts and interpretations of the Holocaust, we owe Horwitz a great debt as he dispassionately examines the most contentious issues, including the notorious role of Ghetto administrator Chaim Rumkowski, the negligible options for resistance, and the vain hope of playing for time.—Charles S. Maier, author of The Unmasterable Past: History, Holocaust, and German National Identity

This wonderful history examines the Nazis’ effort to transform the bustling, energetic metropolis of Łódź, with its 200,000 Jews, into the German-dominated Litzmannstadt—from which the Jews were to disappear. Ghettostadt is a splendid, clear-eyed, detailed, and masterful look at the human and urban landscape of the teeming Jewish world the Nazis destroyed.—Michael R. Marrus, University of Toronto

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